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    A Guide to Insulin Resistance: Symptoms and Diagnosis 

    Pregnancy Complications

    A Guide to Insulin Resistance: Symptoms and Diagnosis 

    Updated on 3 November 2023

    Insulin resistance occurs when the body's cells become less responsive to insulin, the vital hormone responsible for regulating blood sugar levels. This condition can have significant implications for overall health and may lead to serious health complications if left unaddressed.

    In this guide, we will uncover the insulin resistance symptoms that may indicate insulin resistance, enabling early recognition and timely intervention. Armed with this knowledge, you can take proactive steps and learn how to reverse insulin resistance.

    What is Insulin?

    Insulin is a hormone produced by the beta cells of the pancreas. It is a peptide hormone that helps in keeping blood sugar levels in control. Furthermore, it also helps to store glucose in the liver and muscles. Insulin also helps regulate the metabolism of major biomolecules such as carbohydrates and fats.

    What is Insulin Resistance?

    Insulin resistance is a condition in which your body doesn't use insulin effectively. This means that your body needs more insulin to maintain normal blood sugar levels.

    There are a variety of factors that can contribute to insulin resistance, including genetics, obesity, and a sedentary lifestyle. If you have insulin resistance, you're at an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes. If you're insulin resistant, your cells can't use insulin properly. This causes your blood sugar to rise, which can lead to diabetes.

    Fortunately, there are things you can do to manage insulin resistance and lower your risk of diabetes. These include eating a healthy diet, maintaining a healthy weight, and exercising regularly.

    Insulin Resistance Symptoms

    The most common insulin resistance symptoms include:

    • Weight gain

    • Fatigue

    • Increased hunger

    • Cravings for sweets

    Frequent urination

    • Blurred vision

    Signs of Insulin Resistance

    Most of the time, these symptoms are not present in pre-diabetics, so diabetes is often left undiagnosed for many years. Many of such patients can experience the following symptoms when they are pre-diabetic:

    1. Acanthosis nigricans

    It is the darkening of the skin on the back, neck, and armpits.

    2. Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)

    Insulin-related PCOS causes hormonal imbalance in women, which leads to infertility issues.

    3. Major depressive disorder (MDD)

    Insulin resistance doubles the risk of MDD and causes prolonged episodes of depression and sadness, as per a new study conducted at Stanford.

    If you have any of these symptoms, it's essential to speak to your doctor. They can help you manage your condition and avoid any complications.

    Risk Factors of Insulin Resistance

    Insulin resistance is when the body does not produce enough insulin, a hormone that helps turn glucose into energy. As a result, glucose builds up in the blood.

    Insulin resistance is more commonly known as pre-diabetes, which means your blood sugar levels are higher than usual but not high enough for you to be diagnosed with diabetes. This is the stage where you may start noticing issues such as increased hunger, increased thirst, and weight gain. If you have insulin resistance, your body has "high blood sugar," which can lead to serious health problems over time, such as type 2 diabetes, fatty liver disease, and several heart diseases.

    Diagnosis and Insulin Resistance Tests

    Your doctor might prescribe many types of insulin resistance tests in the body. Some of these tests include:

    • Fasting Plasma Glucose Test

    • Oral Glucose Tolerance Test

    • Hemoglobin A1C Test

    All these tests measure the blood glucose level in your body to rule out the possibility of insulin resistance and diabetes in your body.

    You may also like to read: Gestational Diabetes Mellitus in Pregnancy

    What are the Causes of Insulin Resistance?

    There's no one answer to this question as there can be several factors that contribute to insulin resistance. It's thought to be a combination of genetic and lifestyle factors. One of the main theories is that insulin resistance is caused by a diet high in refined carbohydrates and sugar. When you eat foods that are high in sugar, your body has to produce more insulin to process it. Over time, this can lead to insulin resistance. Here are some other factors that can lead to insulin resistance in the body—

    1. Excess Bodyfat

    Being overweight or obese is also thought to contribute to insulin resistance. Fat cells, especially the visceral fat (fat around your belly), can interfere with how insulin works, making it less effective.

    2. Certain Medications

    Beta-blockers and other medications such as steroids and some psychiatric medication can lead to insulin resistance. It can further lead to drug-induced diabetes if not taken care of.

    3. Physical Inactivity

    Other lifestyle factors that may play a role include a sedentary lifestyle, stress, and sleep deprivation. Furthermore, a sedentary lifestyle makes you obese, which again, as mentioned above, is the leading cause of insulin resistance.

    Treatment of Insulin Resistance

    You can learn how to reverse insulin resistance in the following points:

    1. Exercise

    Since a sedentary lifestyle is the leading cause of insulin resistance, regular exercise can help to keep it in check by increasing the glucose uptake of your body by at least 40%.

    2. Get to a healthy weight

    Losing weight can reduce the risk of type II diabetes by 58%.

    3. Eat a proper diet

    Avoid eating processed food that is loaded with carbs and unhealthy amounts of fats. Instead, eat a balanced diet.

    Also read: Top 7 Diet Tips to Control Your Sugar Levels During Pregnancy

    4. Take medications

    Be very particular about your diabetes medication since a sudden increase in blood sugar levels can cause a stroke and be fatal too.


    In conclusion, insulin resistance is a significant metabolic disorder that affects the body's ability to utilize glucose efficiently, leading to elevated blood sugar levels. It is a widespread condition with potential long-term health consequences if not managed effectively.

    Recognizing the symptoms of insulin resistance early on is crucial for seeking timely medical attention and implementing appropriate lifestyle changes. A healthy diet, regular exercise, and weight management are essential in managing insulin resistance and improving insulin sensitivity.

    While insulin resistance can be a challenging condition to address, with proper medical guidance and dedication to lifestyle modifications, individuals can take proactive steps towards mitigating its impact on their health.


    1. Freeman, A. M., & Pennings, N. (2019). Insulin Resistance.; StatPearls Publishing.

    2. Wilcox, G. (2005). Insulin and Insulin Resistance. The Clinical Biochemist. Reviews,


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    Written by

    Madhavi Gupta

    Dr. Madhavi Gupta is an accomplished Ayurvedic doctor specializing in Medical content writing with an experience of over 10 years.

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